As we swiped our WesIDs and strolled into Usdan Marketplace last weekend, we were happy to see that our favorite on-campus eatery had lost none of its traditional offerings. All week, the vegan section served up dishes of curried cauliflower and cashew mac ‘n’ cheese, the pizza station displayed its typical array of unique toppings, and the omelet lines burst with freshmen excited to create their own brunch or breakfast. To the average Wesleyan student, everything might seem the same; however, upon closer inspection, the Bon Appétit dining service has made a significant change. Let’s call it “The Ronnybrook Revolution.”
Ronnybrook, a dairy farm located in Ancramdale, N.Y., and run by the Osofsky family, began manufacturing delicious dairy products in 1941. It have since expanded to become a remarkably successful enterprise within the tri-state area, with a Milk Bar located in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market and 24-hour frozen yogurt shops at some Duane Reade locations. However, though the business has grown, all of their products are completely organic, local, and Kosher certified—no pesticides, GMOs, or artificial growth hormones. The farm is only an hour and a half away from Middletown, so fresh products are shipped in three times a week.
It may seem coincidental that the farm’s ideals are in sync with Wesleyan’s values, but the similarities are unsurprising given that the current owners of Ronnybrook are Wesleyan alumni: Rick Osofsky ’66, and his daughter, Kate Osofsky ’94. The Osofskys said that they were excited to purvey their product to their mutual alma mater.
“The most important gift acquired from our liberal Wesleyan education was how it helped us discover what it was that we really loved,” the Osofskys wrote in an email to The Argus. “It was, after all, the farm that we both went home to. Now both of us are so pleased to bring a bit of our farm back to Wesleyan.”
Executive Chef of Bon Appétit Brian Dagnall says he is extremely excited about the new addition of Ronnybrook products.
“It’s probably the best milk you can get around here,” Dagnall said.
Ronnybrook has also gotten rave reviews from The New York Times. According to the farm’s website, the milk has been called the “Dom Perignon” of dairy.
Here’s a quick science lesson: the noticeably creamy texture and rich taste of Ronnybrook milk and yogurt can be attributed to the fact that the milk is unhomogenized. This means that the fat particles are not broken up during processing, which results in a thick layer of cream. Although the texture may be off-putting at first, the result is a creamier taste and a more healthful product. The tiny fat particles in homogenized milk are easily absorbed by the villi in our intestines; with unhomogenized milk, it is much more difficult for the large fat particles to be absorbed. Futhermore, Ronnybrook milk products are not overly pasteurized, which preserves the abundance of natural protein and enzymes that help build muscle and support our immune systems.
However, due to its higher quality, Ronnybrook is slightly more expensive than the University’s previous dairy distributor. Dagnall believes that the nutritional and environmental values of the Wesleyan community warrant paying the extra money.
Many students agreed. During a taste test, Ronnybrook products received overwhelmingly positive reviews. Even after being informed of Ronnybrook’s high price, the consensus was that the milk was worth it. Many students claimed that they could taste a difference between Ronnybrook chocolate milk and other chocolate milk varieties and said they would absolutely purchase the yogurts.
As of now, the only dairy in the Usdan Marketplace that isn’t manufactured by Ronnybrook is the ice cream, which is still distributed by Hershey’s. However, Dagnall is hoping to eventually make Ronnybrook the exclusive dairy product available in the facility.
At this point, Wesleyan students can purchase glass bottles of several Ronnybrook Creamline™ milk flavors, yogurt, and drinkable yogurt at Weshop and the Usdan Café. At the Marketplace, you can indulge in soft-serve strawberry or vanilla frozen yogurt, plain yogurt served at the salad bar, and chocolate, two percent, or skim milk. In addition, Ronnybrook products are also used in the preparation of baked goods and foods.
Wesleyan is the first Bon Appétit-affiliated university to offer Ronnybrook goods, and Weshop is the first retail location to sell Ronnybrook in Middletown.
At first, the switch to Ronnybrook seemed to be unnoticed by the student body, but now the product is flying off the shelves. A walk through Weshop revealed that many varieties of the individual milk and yogurt drinks were sold out, and in Usdan there was a long line for milk, a rarity on this campus.
From Chef Dagnall to our student taste testers, it seems Wesleyan is eager to have Ronnybrook’s dairy products on campus. Although some disliked the expense of the product, most agreed that the difference in quality is worth the price.
At any rate, thanks to Ronnybrook dairy, life at Wesleyan is so much more delicious.